1. How did you become connected with Hope Scarves?
I first became connected with Hope Scarves when I met Lara at the Conference for Young Women with Breast Cancer in New Orleans in 2012. My husband and I stopped by her booth at the expo and I immediately felt a connection with Lara as a young survivor and was so moved by this incredible idea she had in creating Hope Scarves. I took home a stack of her marketing materials and distributed them throughout my cancer treatment center, wrote about her on my blog and told family and friends to check out this wonderful organization. We have stayed in touch through the last 2 years and now forged a great friendship!
2. If you donated a scarf please share what this experience meant to you or if you received a scarf and story please share how this impacted your healing journey?
I have shared scarves with many different people after becoming inspired by Hope Scarves. From my husband’s high school student battling lymphoma, my aunt dealing with ovarian cancer, and my dear friend dealing with a recurrence and having to lose her hair for the second time…passing along my scarves has been a way for me to show my love to others and let me know I am here to support them. To let them know I have been down that road and have come through the other side, and they will too. It might seem like a subtle gesture, but to those faced with losing their hair and a huge piece of their identity, it can mean so much.
3. What are the things that provided hope and strength to you throughout your battle?
My greatest sources of hope and strength have always been the love and support of my family, friends and other cancer survivors. Those closest to me, especially my incredible husband, provide me with strength during those most difficult times. The times when you just feel tired of dealing with it all. All of the amazingly brave women I have become friends with that deal with cancer as a chronic disease are the ones that give me hope that I can follow in their footsteps and live a joyful life despite this disease.
4. Where are you currently on your cancer journey? Tell us how you are living life over cancer.
I live with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer, for which there is no cure. I am currently doing very well and my disease remains stable with the help of oral medications and monthly injections. It has been a long road to get to here, but I can truly say I live my life over cancer in every possible way despite knowing this disease will also be a part of me. I work full time, run a small business, travel, exercise, donate my time to charities, and spend as much time with family and friends as possible.
5. What do you wish other people knew about Hope Scarves?
I would love for others to know what a huge gift you can provide by donating to Hope Scarves. It’s not just a scarf – it’s a symbol of support…a symbol of perseverance and a symbol of HOPE! You may never know what that truly means to someone facing this type of battle.
6. What would you tell someone who is thinking about sending a Hope Scarf to a friend battling cancer?
Exactly the same answer as #5 ☺
7. What is one of your dreams or goals for the future?
For a long time I didn’t think I could have hopes or dreams for the future. It felt as though I didn’t have a future at all and it would be foolish to make plans for one. But, I am so thankful to say that I now see a bright future filled with many incredible experiences. Above all else, my only goal is to be able to say that I have made a difference with my life. At the end of the day, that is all I truly want.
8. What is your favorite inspirational quote or words to live by?
“She stood in the storm & when the wind did not blow her away, she adjusted her sails.” –Elizabeth Edwards
9. If your friends or family had to describe you in two words, what would those be?
Hmmm…that is a toughie since I am pretty much my own worst critic. I would hope those who know me best would describe me as “strong” and “loyal”. Although I am not one to usually pat myself on the back, I am proud of all I have been through and overcome in my life…not just relating to cancer. Even before I was diagnosed, I had been through more hardships than the normal 20-something year old. I am grateful for the strength that was instilled in me while I being was raised by an incredible single mother. And I trust that my closest friends and family know how fiercely loyal I am. I would do anything for my friends and have tried my best to support them and stand by them, just as they have done for me.
10. Please share something you learned having gone through cancer – either as a survivor or as having a loved one with cancer.
I have learned soooo….much about myself and about life in general since my diagnosis. One of the greatest lessons I wish others could truly understand is that the old cliché is so true…Life is far too short, so make the most of it while you can. We never envision hearing the words, “You have cancer”, or “There is no cure for Stage IV disease”, or “The average life expectancy is 24 months”. And I certainly never dreamed I would hear these things before reaching 30 years old. But I have tried my best to live a life full of happiness, grace and gratitude despite the cards that have been dealt to me. I am not thankful for cancer but I am thankful that I have the perspective to really, truly understand how fragile and precious life really is. It is something that I don’t think you can appreciate until you realize how quickly it can be taken from you. Spend your days surrounded by the people and things that make you happiest and bring you joy because life is far too short to spend your precious time any other way!